When Will Smith said that Collateral Beauty is as great as Frank Capra`s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), I believed him sincerely and all the way from the bottom of my sentimental heart. I even had to watch the trailer for over ten times as I simply could not get over it. But then, lucky, happy and getting ready to cry my eyes out, I headed towards the theater to see the most beautiful movie ever made. But I am afraid, after first fifteen minutes of it, I realized, this is not the movie I wanted so badly to see. And Collateral Beauty, to my great disappointment, was not as beautiful as it could have and meant to be…
Howard’s (Will Smith) soul is sick and his heart is still in mourning when we find him in the opening scene. We find out that he has lost his daughter a year ago, and now, the company he had built with his best friend, Whit (Edward Norton) is about to die as well. What, however, Howard does is unique, when we find out that, in order to seek for a universe answer, he sends letters to Love, Death and Time. Seemingly hopeless and doomed to fail, Whit comes up with the brilliant idea to cure Whit`s loneliness by sending him three people called Love, Time and Death (Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore and Helen Mirren) to help him to get over the tragedy that occurred in his life.
Luckily it was Love, played by Keira Knightley who finds Whit first during an audition when she delivers a slogan he wanted improved. I guess that was a scene when an attentive viewer will be able to predict the storyline till the end, and will never be wrong at that. When Whit reaches the Hereld Theater in New York, he walks in to find two more people, Death played by Helen Mirren and Time, who are introduced as inspiring actors who has no money to introduce their play to the wider audience. Shortly after, explaining his plan to his associates, one of them is Claire played by Kate Winslet and Michael Peña’s Simon, all of them agreed to pay twenty thousand American dollars to play the cards out.
By the time when each, let`s call them this way, Time, Love and Death approached to Howard, things starts changing significantly, while the power of manipulative words start playing its trick with everyone involved. But those trick and the magic move should not mislead the viewer, as I am afraid, the only interesting part of the film begins and ends right there. And that is not, and I assure you, Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton or Keira Knightly to be blamed. It’s a pure unimaginative and flat screenplay that instead of creating something powerful, ends up with the storyline that will make laugh even a newborn child.
In conclusion, David Frankel’s Collateral Beauty suffers in many ways. First, the storyline is not believable at all. Not like it’s hard to believe that Death, Love and Time one day will or will not knock your door. The problem of the movie was not with that, but the way it was presented. Everything about it was dull and childish where its only attempt to earn the viewers heart was having the movie evolved around the sentimental part, where you and me expect to connect to it through the broken and devastated heart of Howard, who, with all due respect, could not convince us at all.